Wauseon Assistant Police Chief William McConnell’s announcement of his sudden resignation at Monday’s City Council meeting baffled at least one council member and led to an impromptu executive session to offer an explanation.
McConnell opened the meeting by reading a prepared statement, which offered some of his history with the police department and thanked city officials and co-workers with whom he served. He did not accept questions afterward.
In the statement, McConnell acknowledged his resignation was sudden but didn’t offer a reason. He also announced his new position as a sergeant with the Fayette Police Department.
“I cannot say enough about the members of the Wauseon Police Department (and my area law enforcement family),” the statement said. “…I really do not know of any other police department in the State of Ohio that offers so much to its citizens from a department of that size.”
McConnell officially resigned his position Oct. 27, the same day a hastily-planned City Council meeting was to convene for an executive session regarding a city employee. The meeting was summarily canceled following McConnell’s resignation.
His city personnel file contains a one-sentence notice from McConnell that he would resign as of 2 p.m. Oct. 27. The file indicates no problems with McConnell’s performance as assistant chief or mention of disciplinary action against him. In an evaluation of McConnell completed Sept. 21, Chief Keith Torbet praised the assistant chief’s work, using the words “commendable” and “outstanding.”
Both Torbet and City Law Director Tom McWatters III declined to comment on the resignation.
After McConnell read the statement at Monday’s City Council meeting, and following two city committee reports, Councilor Shane Chamberlin suddenly interrupted the proceedings to express frustration over his lack of knowledge about the resignation. He said as a member of both the council and the city’s Personnel Committee he should know the circumstances.
Addressing Mayor Kathy Huner, Chamberlin said with exasperation, “(McConnell) said his resignation was sudden…answer, if you can, but what’s going on with that?”
Huner replied that the reasons behind the resignation would have to be discussed in an executive session that could be added to the meeting’s agenda.
“I would have liked to have gone forward with it, but then Bill said he wasn’t going to answer any questions,” she said.
When Chamberlin complained again about having no knowledge of the circumstances, Huner cut him off, saying, “Shane, we’ll discuss it in executive, okay? When we talk about an employee and his job, that has to go in executive.”
Later, McConnell declined to discuss the matter, but said he has retained an attorney. He would not say why.
“He read his report at the meeting, and he resigned from this position,” Huner said Wednesday. “He just wanted to say more or less how he felt about working for the city.” She declined further comment.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.